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Ravens Friday Transcripts: Week 10 Bye Week (11/8)


Opening statement:"OK, good to see everybody; I appreciate you guys being here. [We're] coming off a very hard-fought, physical victory last night down in New Orleans. [I'm] very proud of our players [and] coaches. To come out with that win was a challenge, and the Saints were playing very hard and physical right down to the end of the game. We responded well, handled the environment, handled the opponent, handled our own issues in a lot of ways, too. So, I'm proud of those guys for that. What questions do you have?"

We saw OLB Jason Pierre-Paul only played seven snaps last night; did he get hurt in the course of the game, and how is he doing? _(Childs Walker) _"Yes, he kind of tweaked his ankle a little bit. Nothing too serious, it just wasn't something that we felt like we wanted to challenge too much with the way the game was going right there. So, he should be fine coming back from the bye [week]. Same thing with DeSean [Jackson]; he should be fine coming back from the bye."

You talked about OLB Justin Houston some last night and the numbers speak for themselves. He played so many snaps early in the season, but now with your depth at that position have you been able to maximize his pass rushing prowess? _(Luke Jones) _"Yes, it's really a good problem to have, in the sense that we're adding these guys. 'J.P.P.' [Jason Pierre-Paul] came in, that was an addition for us. Odafe [Oweh], of course you saw, he took all the snaps early, so did Justin [Houston]. Tyus [Bowser] coming back, [David] Ojabo maybe on the horizon at some point – or not maybe; he will be. It's a good thing, and I feel like Justin is having a great year at this stage in his career. To me, it's a credit to him in so many ways, but it's a credit to him in the sense that he really worked hard. One thing I learned, as you get older, the Ed Reed's, Ray Lewis', Terrell Suggs', those guys, Haloti's [Ngata], when you get a little bit older, you have to work that much harder just to stay the same. Just to be able to play, to stay healthy and to be able to perform. He did that; he really put the work in. He's in probably – he might tell you the best shape of his career, I don't know – but he's in great shape. Then, the other thing is the team part of it. Guys are setting those things up. Some of our games, our pick-stunts, things like that, were executed at such a high level. Give the linebackers credit for that, all the guys. Those are the things I think he would tell you, that's how that stuff happens."

QB Lamar Jackson hasn't put up gaudy numbers, but he's playing effective quarterback; he's converting third downs and not turning the ball over. Have you seen him mature into a guy who can win games without putting on the superhero cape? _(Todd Karpovich) _"Yes, however you want to describe it, but you're exactly right. That's the bottom line; everybody has their own style and way of doing it. The thing I like about Lamar [Jackson] is he's never satisfied. He wants to play a perfect game, and yet third down, he kind of did put the cape on a number of times. That's why we had the third-down numbers that we did really, was he made plays both passing, and scrambling and even run game stuff. Even reads that you guys don't see sometimes. So, he did a great job with that. Our offensive line fought really hard. They were covering us tight; that's a max zone team, and a good man cover team, and there weren't a whole lot of places to throw the ball a lot of times. So, I think Lamar made a lot of things happen that way. So, your point is really good."

Last night, OLB Justin Houston talked about how he was considering retirement before the season. Did you have any conversations with him during the offseason about that? (Kyle Barber) _"No, I never heard anything about that. I didn't want to hear anything about that." _(laughter)

How did OLB Tyus Bowser play in his first game back? _(Ryan Mink) _"Right, Tyus [Bowser], exactly right. Tyus is such a versatile player; he had really good … He played the run well, first of all. You have to earn the right to rush the passer. Then, he rushed the passer; he didn't have the sacks like we're talking about, but he pressured Andy [Dalton], he made him move around, pushed the pocket a few times. Then also, he does a great job in coverage, too. We drop him out a lot of times, which creates some of those pressure games where we're able to run and freeing up the back because he's forcing a lineman to handle those picks. He's either covering guys man-to-man [or] he's jumping crossing routes coming across the field. Tyus is a very versatile player that way, and that's how he played."

You were missing your Top 2 running backs yesterday, but still ran for 188 yards. What was the key for RB Kenyan Drake having a big game? _(Todd Karpovich) _"Just keep kind of pounding the rock. We have really good running backs; we've really developed – because of what happened probably last year and into this year – [executive vice president and general manager] Eric [DeCosta] has done a great job of going out and getting guys. Obviously, Justice [Hill] came back from the Achilles [injury] really well, we were able to acquire Kenyan Drake, we were able to sign Mike Davis. Those were big for us; those guys are all very high-quality backs in the National Football League. Then, J.K. [Dobbins] will be back in a few weeks and then Gus [Edwards] will be back next game, so that's the plan. All that being said, it's really a group effort. Everybody working on all aspects of the run game because it's a group effort. You don't just hand the ball off and the back goes and makes a bunch of yards. It all has to kind of work together. That's what we're getting better at. We still have to get a lot better, because we're not where we want to be yet, but we are improving."

RB Kenyan Drake was signed a little bit late in the process and it kind of took him a little while to get going. What has allowed him recently to really just take off? _(Garrett Downing) _"Like I said, I think the blocking is improving, obviously all the reads, all the things we do. We have some good scheme stuff, so give everybody credit; it's a team effort. Also, he is getting a feel for the way that the schemes work, the footwork. We run a lot of different kind of mid-line footwork schemes that a lot of people don't use. He's getting a feel for where his feet are going to be, where his eyes are going to be, where the blocks are coming from, the different fronts sometimes, where those guys are lined up and how those plays are going to be blocked. He's probably getting a better feel for all of that."

You've talked about S Kyle Hamilton the past few weeks and how he's progressing. He saw a big increase in snap percentage this game. What was it that you liked about this matchup and is he showing you he's worthy of a bigger defensive role? _(Ryan Mink) _"He has been. When you get some responsibility and do well with it, then you earn more responsibility. That's just how it works, in life and in football. He's done that. He's a rookie; he came out there and he had tough sledding the first couple games, but he didn't get down on himself. The guys didn't get down on him; they just kept pushing him. He was open to it, he was willing to listen to wise counsel, and it's paid off for him. We have him in some good spots down there, doing some things in the nickel and dime spots, then you can use disguises and run him back out as a safety when they think he's maybe coming. [He's a] very versatile player down there; he's tackling so well, so playing hard. He's a good blitzer; I don't know that we knew that when we drafted him. He's a really good blitzer, so yes, he keeps growing every week."

What wasn't working on the plays late in the game where you had to take a timeout and then you took a delay of game penalty? _(Childs Walker) _"It just kind of caught up with us a little bit in terms of all the environment, personnel – we were trying to get guys in and out and guys tweaked up a little bit – guys understanding sometimes where to line up, some of the motions and stuff like that. Communication and being on the same page, we just weren't clicking on all cylinders right there with where we were at as an offense in terms of operation as well as we need to be. When you're shuffling a lot of guys in and out, sometimes I think … We don't accept that; we're not saying that that's something that we expect, but we have to acknowledge that it can happen. It kind of overwhelmed us on that one drive there."

The defense had three safeties on the field for 75 percent of snaps. What do you like about that personnel package? _(Kyle Barber) _"Yes, it's just the players. Those guys are just versatile players and they're doing their roles well. Kyle [Hamilton] allows us to do that because he can play a couple different spots down there. Then obviously, Chuck [Clark] and Geno [Stone] are playing at a high level. That probably – and maybe that's your point – that's the biggest point. Both of those guys are just playing super football. Then, you have Marcus [Peters], of course, and Marlon [Humphrey] are playing really well. We move Brandon [Stephens] in and out, and he does a good job in the things he's doing, and 'Pepe' [Damarion Williams] pops in there every now and then and does a good job. We try to keep it moving that way; it's the way it went this last game. They do run the ball pretty well; Alvin Kamara was a guy we needed to stop. I think we wanted to make sure that we could tackle him down there with our underneath guys, so all that goes into it."

On the Saints' touchdown where CB Marcus Peters and S Chuck Clark thought the player stepped out of bounds, was the fear getting a 15-yard penalty? _(Todd Karpovich) _"Yes. For Marcus [Peters], Marcus said it, 'I just have to finish that. I thought he was out of bounds; I have to make sure he's out of bounds.' Then Chuck [Clark] and both Patrick [Queen] thought he was out of bounds by the way the body language went. They didn't want to get a 15-yard penalty for hitting a guy out of bounds, because as soon as a guy steps on the white and you hit him, it's called. We've seen the tapes of that; I'm in this room right here showing the guys the tapes of that. I think that was probably in their heads a little bit, so [a] very, very bad play for all of us. We hate that play; everyone was ticked off about it in the locker room after the game. It's not something that we want to see, but also, as we talked through it, I kind of began to understand why it happened."

Considering how much we asked you about the left guard position for the last couple years, what does it say about the way that G Ben Powers has played that we don't notice him because he's just doing his job? _(Luke Jones) _"That's a great point. We have talked about that position so much, and here he is, he's kind of nailed it down. He's become the established starter there, playing very solid football. [He's] physical, smart, knows what he's doing, rarely makes mistakes, just doing a great job for us."

With OLB Roquan Smith, besides his stats, what did the intensity and physicality he brought do for the rest of the defense? _(Shawn Stepner) _"I think good players and great players make everybody around them better; would you agree with that? We have a number of guys on our defense who do that, and you add another guy like that into the mix. He's a really good player, everybody knows it. What a great job he did to come in and learn the defense so quickly. He had no issues out there at all, as far as knowing what to do. Then all the sudden, he's flying around, and he makes a couple plays and other guys kind of feed off of that just a little bit and your defense is that much better. When you have one guy playing well, it has an exponential effect kind of to everyone else. So, that's kind of how it goes. I was looking forward to seeing how we looked out there with Roquan [Smith] out there, and I'm pretty fired up the way it looked."

A lot has been made about how you guys have had a double-digit lead in every game so far this season. Does the chance to play from ahead impact the effectiveness of the pass rush? _(Noah Trister) _"Well, always. It always does, because teams are forced to pass when they're behind. We have a plan in terms of how we envision our defense, in terms of how we have to play in our conference and in our division. That's been in place; in the offseason you build that, and you try to build you defense in that way towards scheme and then personnel. We didn't have all of our guys early, but we were still building into our vision in terms of scheme and what we wanted to play. I like to think that that will start coming into clear view in the next part of the season here, in terms of how we want to play with the guys we have and with the guys coming back, and as we get better at what we do. So, I think all those things play into it."

I think TE Charlie Kolar's practice window is up this week, so will he go on the roster? In general, how has he looked after he missed so much time? _(Luke Jones) _"He's looked really good. He's a young player, and he missed a lot of time during training camp, so he's still developing, but he's out there [and] he looks good. He's so talented, he's so big, he has great hands. He wants to do well; he's very conscientious. He had three good weeks of practice, so I anticipate him being brought up this week; I can't speak for [executive vice president and general manager] Eric [DeCosta] on that, but that's how we're talking right now. Now, we have to find a way to do it, which is a challenge, but I expect Charlie [Kolar] to contribute this year."

We haven't asked about S Marcus Williams for a while. How is he doing and are you starting to get any sense of a timeframe for when he might be back? _(Childs Walker) _"Yes, we are. It's a great question. He's looking good; it's just one of those deals where it's a bone that has to heal. So, it's pretty straightforward as long as there's no setbacks, so to speak. There have been no setbacks so far, and I think it's sometime in December, is when they expect him back. We'll see, but so far so good."

We typically think of the players getting a break to deal with their physical injuries during the bye week, but what do you hope you and your coaching staff get out of this bye week? (Kyle Barber) _"We'll be working in here; coaches just came in; we'll be working, grinding probably all hours of the night here all through the bye week and then through the weekend. So, don't expect any time off guys. _(laughter)No, we'll work hard, but we'll get away. I joke with the players, it's like they want to get away from us; it's like, 'Hey fellas, we want to get away from you, too. Believe me.' We're excited about that, and having the guys get back with their families certainly over the weekend. We have to do a lot of work the next few days; we have a lot of self-scout work to do. We really need to evaluate where we're at, where we're going. That thing I was talking about with the vision a little bit, we have to keep refining that for the second half of the season just based on what we know now. So, we'll be doing that through the week and then get away on the weekend, and we'll be back. The players are coming back Monday, we'll have a practice on Monday, and then they'll be off on Tuesday because that's their day off for the week, and then we'll be into the regular schedule for the Panthers game on Wednesday."


How far has TE Isaiah Likely come as a run blocker and how important is that in being able to get onto the field? (Childs Walker)"He [Isaiah Likely] started the season probably playing more third downs or passing situations. The last couple of weeks have been an opportunity for him to grow at that, and it's improved. A lot of stuff on the edge, I thought last night was pretty clean. So, that's his role. He's a different player than Josh Oliver. He's a different player than Nick Boyle or Pat Ricard. When we're in that room – in the tight end room – we're a lot of different pieces, too. Isaiah's role is a little bit different than those guys, but he's growing and he's doing better each practice. He's getting a lot of reps – and the more reps he gets … He's a fast learner, too. We expect that to keep growing and improving."

Knowing how much the tight end position is featured, and as you mentioned, different pieces. How challenging is that for a young player, in this offense specifically, just to be ready? Especially, over the last couple of weeks with TE Mark Andrews having been out and guys having to do some different things there. (Luke Jones)"It's really challenging, but it's exciting, too. We look at it as an opportunity just to create our niche in the offense. Sometimes, we're in the backfield. Sometimes, we're extended. A lot of times, we're attached. We're in motion. And we're doing a lot of different roles. Our group finds that real exciting. We feed off of each other – from a coach to a player, player to player. We've got a lot of information [and] a lot of guys with experience. Each one of their roles changes each game. There's a lot of information that we're digesting to put it into the gameplan."

Do you see TE Nick Boyle's role being more involved in the offense this season? (Todd Karpovich)"It is what it is and it's each guy, we got [all] hands on deck. Last night, he [Nick Boyle] played a few more plays. He knows his role. He provides a lot of leadership in that group, too – a lot of experience. He did a good job last night. We see it game-by-game, each guy creates their role and we kind of go from there."

We've seen TE Josh Oliver involved in just about every game this season. Where have you seen him take the biggest strides? (Kyle Barber)"I think he walks out there breaking the huddle and puts his hand in the dirt of the AstroTurf. This guy is a physical player out there. A lot of times, it's at the point of attack. Last night, those are some pretty talented defensive ends he was blocking – [Marcus] Davenport and [Cameron] Jordan. Those guys are pretty impressive defensive linemen, too. He made a big play on third down. He's playing anywhere from 20-30 plays a game. Last night he played over 40. Same thing, it's like with Isaiah [Likely] – each opportunity, each game, he's getting more experience. He's asking the right questions and he's improving. We expect this next half of the year to be better."

What have you seen from TE Charlie Kolar in practice and how do you feel he can help your unit when he comes back? (Ryan Mink)"With Charlie [Kolar], he's just getting back. Unfortunately for him, he didn't have a training camp. So, we've had two days in pads with him here practicing. So, for him, it's almost like try to get as many reps as possible. We're dealing with getting out of there from the injury, and it's getting into football shape, and then get out there and blocking. He missed all those individual sessions that we had with pads during training camp. For him, it's each day. We're trying to take another step. We'll see where that is as the year goes on."

I know he didn't play last night, but what has stood out to you about Mark Andrews in your first year with him? (Garrett Downing)"I'm impressed with this guy day-in and day-out. We learn a lot – everybody in that room – from him when he speaks. He's hard to cover – in practice, in games. Each opponent has a different scheme for him. Sometimes it's double coverages. He's caught touchdowns when teams double-covered him. He makes quick decisions. He's got a lot of experience with Lamar [Jackson]. That's where you see a lot of success – at top of the route with him and Lamar. He catches it and he's an aggressive runner with the ball; not afraid to put his hat in there. He's an impressive player to watch just day-in and day-out, in the facility and then on gameday. I'm really impressed by Mark Andrews."

Do you think TE Mark Andrews embraces the role and the opportunity that opposing defenses put so much focus and attention on him? (Garrett Downing)"He told the unit before the first game, 'You can count on me.' And I think he's excited by that, because it's a challenge. I think everyone in our locker room knows that he's going to come through, too."

We've asked John Harbaugh about this in the past, but is it difficult to get TE Mark Andrews to take it easy when he does need to rest or heal up a little bit? Like the situation he's dealing with now. (Childs Walker)"There's a lot with that. He wants to get better, and he knows that he's going to get better by getting out there on the practice field and working. That's just what his mantra is. To hold him back, for us [coaches], he kind of looks at you and goes back in the huddle. (laughter) This will be good – this bye week. It couldn't happen at a better time for us with Mark Andrews. But that's why he is so good. You don't get any better by just sitting and watching. That's why he's so productive. That's why the defenses are trying to find a way to stop him. I think all that ties in together. That's why it's a little bit complicated."

Just looking up at this roster from top to bottom at the tight end position, do you feel this is an abundance of riches for you with so many talented players? (Kyle Barber)"Yes, I think I'd take this group over any group going into a game. It's just a physical group, it's a smart group. They're very coachable. They get open. They catch the ball. And they're competitive. Every challenge they're excited about. The NFL season is a long season. So, we need them all, and we need them all in their different roles. Last night was a good example – turning into a running game. Guys were kind of excited about that – putting their hat in there."


How pleased have you been with what S Geno Stone has been able to do in the absence of S Marcus Williams? _(Luke Jones) _"It's definitely great to have options. Having guys like Geno [Stone] and having guys like Kyle [Hamilton] to step into those roles when your starters go down. Geno did it all last year when Chuck [Clark] went down, when other guys went down. He's always been prepared for that position, and it's nothing but greener [grasses] for him going forward."

How impressed have you been with CB Marlon Humphrey bouncing back from injury last year?"Marlon [Humphrey], you wish you could just clone him and just put him all over the field because of the kind of guy that he is, but he's playing at a high level right now playing at corner. We're giving him some more opportunities to go back inside and play some nickel, too, because we see him coming off the edge as a blitzer; that's something that he does really well. He has that element there, that toughness inside that you need. I'm definitely pleased with Marlon, where he is right now and where he's going, because we have to get better for the second half of the season as well."

Have you been proud of the way you guys have limited the big, over-the-top plays since the first few weeks? What has been the key to that? _(Childs Walker) _"You always look at everything. Every game and every play is graded individually on what happened in that play. So, you can't just say, 'Alright, it's this, it's that.' Everything is always different, but at the end of the day, you always go back, and you look at how you're coaching something, how you're saying something, or what are we doing. What's the reason for the mistake? Whether you have to pare down, or say more, everything is different. The way that we've attacked that is [to] just do the things that take no talent, meaning line up correctly, communicate, play with effort. Those things don't take a whole lot of talent to just go out there and do those things. That's where really we've emphasized for the last couple weeks, is just do those things, and let's see how good we can really get."

CB Marlon Humphrey is an All-Pro player, but it seems like he's even better than he was last year. Where have you seen him improve his game this season to be where he's at now? _(Ryan Mink) _"This is his sixth year in the league; he's a little bit smarter in knowing scheme, he's more comfortable with himself as a player and who he has to go play against. There are really not a whole lot of players out there in the league that he'll look at and be like, 'I can't cover this guy.' So, it's more a confident issue than a technique thing or whatever, but Marlon [Humphrey]'s just that kind of player."

S Kyle Hamilton has gotten better every week. Have you been adjusting his position or snaps or anything, or is it just him getting used to the speed of the game? _(Todd Karpovich) _"You've seen him, when he was in college, he played a lot of good positions that you're seeing him do right now. He's always been comfortable doing those things, it's just really more about the opportunities to be able to get those things done and be able to do it in the way that we want him to do it. The kid's so talented; there's a lot of things that he can do. We're just now just tapping into things that he can do. He's a unique player; as [defensive coordinator] Mike [Macdonald] calls him, 'He's a unicorn.' He's different."

When we talk to CB Marlon Humphrey, he always points to the help that CB Marcus Peters gives him. How important is it to have Peters back this year coming off the injury? (Kevin Richardson) _"They're both invaluable guys. They're starting-caliber players, Pro-Bowl type corners, and the thing that Marcus [Peters] does for Marlon [Humphrey] and then Marlon does for Marcus, they feed off each other. Marcus is more… He does things in a different style, but he knows the plays that are coming. He can always communicate that to the guys to help them out, and on top of that, he gives the rest of the team and the secondary confidence. By him just being out there, he changes things. So, I forgot what the [heck] your question was, my bad. _(laughter)"


How disappointing was it to lose WR Rashod Bateman for the season, and what was your message to the rest of the group? _(Luke Jones) _"Just to focus on Rashod [Bateman], it was a downer because he had tried to play through [his injured foot]. I saw the look in his eyes, and it didn't look right. He tried to go back out and push it, and it just wasn't right. So, medically it was determined what it was determined, that he wouldn't be coming back for the season. So, it's just a downer for him. Coming off of a rookie year where he had a surgery, started feeling himself, got better towards the end of last season, and then to have a season-ending injury this year, it's just tough for him. He's a young player who is learning how to play. Being the No. 1 receiver, he was having success, playing great, route running, catching the ball, doing all those good things. To have a season-ending injury is tough, so I was really focusing on him and his mental health and his well-being. So, we spoke more about how he's going to bounce back from the injury, the rehab will take care of itself, but I'm more concerned about him as a player and as a human being."

How has it been having WR DeSean Jackson in the wide receivers room? _(Kevin Richardson) _"It's been great because he's a veteran player. He's going into year 15, and you look at the room before he came, [it was] a very young group. I was looking around, and Demarcus Robinson was the elder statesman in the room. With seven years, that's good, but to know who DeSean Jackson is as a person, what he's done in this league at a high level, a good who's still playing at a high level. One of the first times he walked into the room, the rest of the guys respected him instantly because they know who DeSean Jackson is. So, that's been great because when he says something, they listen because they know he's speaking from experience; he's not just talking. He's competitive; he practices hard. He's just a great example of how you get to play in this league for 15 years. So, it was good for guys like Rashod [Bateman] and James Proche and Devin Duvernay, guys who have skillsets but are fairly young in that room, to have a veteran like DeSean Jackson to show up and still compete and play at a high level."

WR James Proche had a nice catch last night, but what does he have to do to get more involved in the offense? _(Todd Karpovich) _"He's maximizing his opportunities. The way that we've been playing personnel wise, it kind of limits that time of him being on the field. We have certain personnels where he's in the game 100 percent of the time. He's also Devin Duvernay's backup in certain personnels, and Devin doesn't like to come out of the game, and Devin is playing great. So, it's hard to substitute a player who's playing at a high level and playing really well. It's not a knock on James at all; he's playing great, route running, catching the ball and making some big catches. He's also blocking his tail off which is an area where I challenged him during the offseason to improve in. So, it's just a matter of us in game-planning getting him out there and playing, but it's not a knock on him. He's playing at a high level; he's doing everything we're asking him to do and beyond, and you'll continue to see him play more as we finish the season."

We got a taste of WR DeSean Jackson last night, but what are your expectations for him during the second half of the season? _(Garrett Downing) _"We're being smart; we're playing the long game with him, understanding that he didn't have a training camp or an offseason. So, last night for me was kind of like preseason [Game] 1, although it's a Monday Night Football game, but with 15 years and being who he is, he allows me the opportunity as the receivers coach to manage it that way. We had a pitch count on him, but pitch counts are irrelative to how a player feels. I wanted to really push him on the conditioning phase of it, the getting comfortable with the offense, the calls, the huddle calls, playing with Lamar [Jackson], how we play offense. You guys have interviewed him and talking about how he's enjoying playing in an offense like this. So, he felt himself, and somewhere in the third quarter, I looked at him and asked him how he was doing, and he was like, 'I feel good.' We were in control of the game, so I didn't feel the need to continue to play him, which I felt was the best decision. So, the bye week is great for him; he'll continue to progress in terms of his conditioning and things of that nature. He'll be a big part of what we do down the stretch."

You've coached young receivers at this level and the college level. How important is it to their development to work with really good quarterbacks early on? (Childs Walker) _"Yes, it goes hand in hand. No. 1, having a veteran quarterback with younger receivers, that guy tells them how he wants it, exactly how he wants it. With Lamar [Jackson], not only does he know that from a schematic standpoint, but it's how Lamar likes to play. It's different than playing for anyone else. 'L.J.,' he likes to freestyle at times. Sometimes, I'll say, 'Run the route like this,' and Lamar is like, 'No, no, no. I want it like this.' And I'm like, 'Do what Lamar says.' _(laughter)We promote that type of communication; we promote the freedom to be that way in our offense, and it's partially because of Lamar. It's great that the young guys feel comfortable asking questions and getting the most out of Lamar for what he expects from them. We're just going to continue to build it. We're young, but they're talented and they're starting to make plays with our quarterback."

WR Devin Duvernay also has the skillset to be a ball carrier. Have you seen him line up differently with how he is utilized in this offense? _(Kyle Barber) _"He's a very important piece to what we do, similar to how we use Pat Ricard and how we use our tight ends. Devin Duvernay cannot be underestimated with his value in our offense because he can line up in the slot, he can line up outside, he can line up in the backfield, he can take pitches, he can take sweeps, blocking, so on and so forth. So, it opens up a lot of things for Lamar [Jackson] and the running backs as well because you cannot disregard him on the perimeter. You saw on Thursday Night Football, the touchdown on the jet sweep. So, people can't just say we're faking it to him every time because there is an opportunity for him to get the ball there."

When you know you're facing a team that's going to hit you with a lot of man-to-man coverage, do you have a particular message for the receivers? _(Childs Walker) _"I refer to man coverage as disrespect; that's just how we talk. It's disrespectful to us in our room, and if you don't think that way, something is wrong anyway. We see it as a challenge. It's tough to play man against Lamar Jackson, because if you don't pass rush with the right lanes, we can get explosive plays with him as well. So, our tight ends do a great job versus man-to-man, our running backs are winning on the perimeter and running routes versus man. At wide receiver, we love that opportunity to go out and compete 'mano a mano' against a person that feels like they can play us man-to-man."

How much confidence was built by the wide receiver group based on what the receivers did early in the season after they were questioned during the offseason? _(Ryan Mink) _"I feel like it started with the offseason of them understanding we didn't draft a wide receiver, and we went through the most part of training camp without bringing in someone until Demarcus [Robinson] came in late. I just feel like they saw it as opportunity. They've been here; you're talking about some guys who may not have had the catches or the yards or the statistics that you want to have consistently at the receiver position, but guys who have been here just waiting on their opportunity. That's the part that's fun to watch as a coach, is you sell things, their opportunities are limited at times, but then there may be games where you get the ball more than others. Still, they're doing their jobs at a high level regardless of what we're asking them to do, and that's all I can ask for as a coach, [offensive coordinator] 'G-Ro' [Greg Roman] as the coordinator. That's all we ask them to do, is just do your job at a high level. You may catch five balls this game, you may catch one, you may not catch any, but you may spring the block for Lamar [Jackson] to score, or you may clear it out for Mark [Andrews] to score. Whatever it is we're asking them to do, they're just doing a great job of executing in their roles, and that's what we ask for."


How did you react when you found out the Ravens were bringing in ILB Roquan Smith? _(Luke Jones) _"I was really excited. I mean, whenever you get a chance to get a player like Roquan Smith to come into your building, into your linebacker room, into your defense … It was a blessing. He's been as advertised. And you kind of know the player he's been [from] watching him come out of Georgia. In the offseason, you always watch the top players at your position, and Roquan has been one of the top linebackers since he's come into the league. But the biggest thing about him was the person he is. He's a great dude, which is great. You always want to have great people in the building. So, just as great a player he is, [he's] just as great [of] a young man. So, it's good. I'm excited. I'm still excited about it."

It seems like ILB Roquan Smith's personality has allowed him to click right away with this new team. How helpful is that when you're getting thrust into a new environment in the middle of the season? _(Garrett Downing) _"Yes, it's good. It's a credit to the man that he [Roquan Smith] is. He's a great dude, so it will be easy to fit in. And I think it's a credit to the guys we have in this locker room – not just only in the linebackers room, but on the team – and we have a great group of guys. The guys are close. I know you guys see Marlon's [Humphrey] Instagram Live and all that stuff. It's a really close-knit team, so it makes it easy for a guy to come in from another organization midseason [who] wasn't here in [training] camp [and] wasn't here in the offseason. It makes it an easy transition for them to come into the locker room. And our guys, they welcomed him with open arms. It's been a smooth transition. So, it's a credit to Roquan, his personality, the type of man he is, [and] I think it's a credit to the type guys we've got in our locker room, as well."

We've seen ILB Patrick Queen on the field for really almost every play for a while now. To your mind, how far has he come, especially in coverage? And do we maybe sometimes underestimate the learning curve from what a linebacker is asked to do in college to what he's asked to do here? (Childs Walker) _"Man, I'm very pleased with Patrick Queen. I think he's very underrated in what we ask him to do and what he's done for us. He's been on the field every snap. You just look at last night's game; he played nickel, he played MIKE, he played WILL, he played dime, and he played three-technique. So, that's invaluable for us. And he's been coming along every single week this season – he's been improving. Obviously, him being in Year Three, the game is starting to slow down. We talked about that ever since he was a rookie – about Year Three, that's when the game starts slowing down – and it's slowed down for him a lot. I think you just see how consistent he's been, and he's a force out there. I mean, opposing offenses have to know where No. 6 is on every single play, and that's just a credit to how he approaches every single day in the meeting room [and] on the practice field, and the hard work is paying off. So, I'm proud of him, I'm excited for him, and I still think that he's still going this way. _(motioning upward)We haven' seen the best of Patrick Queen, but we've seen a pretty good version of him. So, that makes me so excited for him about where he's going."

What were your takeaways with your first game with ILBs Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen next to each other and how they fed off each other and complemented each other? _(Ryan Mink) _"Man, it was great. I mean, you've got two erasers [Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen] in the middle of a defense. You're talking about two linebackers that run [a] 4.4 [40-yard dash], that are physical, that are instinctive, that are fast. There are not many teams in the NFL that have a pair like that in the middle, and I think you saw that last night. We played a tough Saints offense, a top offense in the league despite their record, and one of the most dynamic running backs in the league with Alvin Kamara. That dude is probably a top running back overall, out of the backfield [and] running the football. Those two guys [Smith and Queen] played great coverage on him [and] essentially took him out of the game, which took their offense out of the game. So, that was a great start, and it's only going to go up from here. That's the expectation, because like you said, 'Ro' [Roquan Smith] just got here six days ago, so we threw the whole playbook at him that he would have gotten starting in March – he did a great job picking that up – and 'PQ' [Patrick Queen] did a good job helping bring him along. So, I'm just excited. Those guys already have got a chemistry they're building; they sit next to each other in meetings. So, I'm excited about where we're going."

Just how important has ILB Josh Bynes been throughout this season, being that he's a veteran in this linebackers room? _(Kyle Barber) _"I love Josh [Bynes]. I've known Josh for a long time. His role on this team is invaluable. He came in, we signed him back in the offseason. [He has] vet [veteran] leadership [and] was playing very well for us, too – had an interception, was a staple in the middle of our defense. And even now, with the addition of Roquan [Smith], his participation in practice and meetings hasn't changed. He's 12 years in the game. There's nothing that he hasn't seen before, so he's always sharing his wisdom – not only with me, but with the group – and the younger guys look for that. I just appreciate Josh so much. He's invaluable. So, having him every day on the practice field, having him in the meeting room, is great for me, and I enjoy it."

What is it about ILB Roquan Smith and his game that puts him at the level he is? Is it his vision? Is it his preparation for an opponent? What is it? _(Kevin Richardson) _"I think it's a combination of all of it. You talk about a guy [Roquan Smith] who has a rare physical ability, but also has a rare mental ability, as well. So, physically, he can make all the plays on the field, and mentally, he can prepare and diagnose all the plays on the field. A lot of people, they can physically do it, but they can't diagnose it to make the play. A lot of people can diagnose the play, but they physically can't get there. Now you've got the rare combination of a guy who can do both of those, and that's what Roquan brings to it – and I think 'PQ' [Patrick Queen], as well."


You talked about the natural progression of a quarterback from season to season. What have you liked about QB Lamar Jackson in Year Five? _(Luke Jones) _"There are things last night that I saw [where] I continue to see [Lamar Jackson] grow with things that might not jump out to the naked eye. But as his coach, I love the fact that he's carrying out fakes when we run the ball. He's such a threat as a runner that when he continues to carry out his fakes and take great pride in that, all eyes on him, and we can hold two or three guys on the back end – even if just for a step. Those types of things are where I really see him growing."

The pass protection has been really good of late, especially since T Ronnie Stanley came back. How important has that been to QB Lamar Jackson's ability to manage these games the way we've seen him do it? _(Childs Walker) _"Yes, they fight like crazy up front, they do a heck of a job with identification and assignment, and then they strain. And then when you have a mobile quarterback like Lamar [Jackson], he can make some things right, because we're blocking some really good players, too. But the pass protection is where it all starts. I know Lamar looks and feels very comfortable in the pocket right now. So, it's a challenge every week. There is some great player on the other side or a great scheme that we have to take care of, and they've been doing a great job with it."

Head coach John Harbaugh just said that QB Lamar Jackson is never satisfied and that he wants to play a perfect game, and you see that on the field when you don't score a touchdown in the red zone, and he's frustrated, or the snap doesn't come in early enough. How much do you love seeing that passion to be play a perfect game, and how do you coach him through that? _(Ryan Mink) _"Well, of course, football is not a game of perfect. We're always chasing perfection, and you're never going to get there, but hopefully you get great along the way – that's kind of our mentality. You just know how passionate [Lamar Jackson] is, and it shows. And one of the things we've always talked about throughout his career is, 'Don't be afraid to let people know how important this thing is to you.' Sometimes quarterbacks have this mentality of being like 'Joe Cool,' and they have to just maintain at all times. It's OK for people to know how excited you were by a great block someone made or a great run or a great play you made. It's OK for people to understand and know how much you wanted to make that throw and doggone it, you didn't. I love it. I think the guys feed off it. He's an energy giver, and it shows [with] the way he plays."

Regarding the two or three open deep passes that QB Lamar Jackson missed yesterday, how do you guys work on converting those? Is there any potion to getting better at that? How do you improve upon that with him? _(Shawn Stepner) _"There are several reasons why some of those were missed, [and] we address those things. Some of them are things that [Lamar Jackson], specifically, and we will work on, specifically; some of them are communication with, 'Hey when it's played exactly this way, these kinds of things happen. Let's set the route at this angle' – those types of things. There are a multitude of reasons. It's a collective effort from all of us offensively to get it right. You don't want to leave those plays on the field. I think if you watch quarterback play or any game in the National Football League, a common theme I hear from coaches is, 'Boy, he'd like to have that one back.' I think it's just the game of football. We don't want to miss any of them; and him, especially, you can see – in reference to what you were saying – how passionate he is. He doesn't want to ever miss them; I don't want him to miss them. He can make those throws; he should make those throws. He knows it. So, you just keep working, [and] you just keep going at it."

Obviously, we know the connection between QB Lamar Jackson and TE Mark Andrews. But with Mark out yesterday, he completed a pass to 10 different guys. What have you seen from Lamar in terms of building trust with him other targets and being comfortable throwing it to whoever is open? _(Ryan Mink) _"Lamar [Jackson] inherently trusts every player. That is never a question. He does not have any … If they're out there and they're his teammate, he trusts they're going to do the right thing. There is no question. So, that's the first thing. The second thing is to a high degree yesterday, he let the play run itself. So, I think we checked down four or five balls for a bunch of yards, and [with] some of the coverages and the style of the coverages they were playing, as they sank, he ran the play, found the check-down, and that's how the ball gets spread around; that's how we continue to make first downs and hold the ball for 38 minutes or whatever we did yesterday."

Along those lines, how pleased have you been to see QB Lamar Jackson protect the ball the last couple of weeks, when you're missing a TE Mark Andrews, and you're missing a WR Rashod Bateman? I would think a younger or less-experienced quarterback might try to do too much in those situations, but he's been able to play turnover-free football the last couple of weeks. _(Luke Jones) _"That's where it all starts; that's our goal; that's the huge emphasis. They joke with me that I'm beating dead horse, but I'm going to keep beating it. We all know the correlation between turnovers and success, in terms of wins and losses, [and] that's what we're trying to do – is win football games. So, you don't want to play scared; [Lamar Jackson] hasn't been – he's still been aggressive – but you want to make great decisions. And we have to continue to pursue that. The tipped ball thing that happens on occasion, that's football – those things happen – but decision making, that's where we start with all of our discussion."

QB Lamar Jackson put the cape on for a couple third-down plays. What do you say on the third down where he breaks a couple tackles, jukes a couple of guys and spins over to the sideline? _(Garrett Downing) _"'Wow!' I mean, I've said it before, [and] I've probably said it in front of you multiple times; you can go down the road of being hypercritical, and nitpicking everything, and we do that – you have to do that to chase perfection – but if I don't acknowledge those plays like a couple of those runs last night, if I don't' walk next to [tight ends coach] George [Godsey] and be like, 'Geeze,' or George doesn't walk to me and say that, then what are we doing? Because, you have to acknowledge it. I say that in the room with the guys all the time; If I don't acknowledge that, then you're going to look at me cross-eyed like, 'Who are you, man?' And [Lamar Jackson] doesn't want to hear that; he wants to talk about the plays he could have made or how to get better. But I'm going to acknowledge it, because there are times when he does things that few can do."

Along those lines, we saw the interception against New York late in that game, but then, QB Lamar Jackson picks up a fumble last night and makes a play out of something that should not have been a play. What do you say to him as a coach? He almost completed that ball. _(Ryan Mink) _"I think I said … We talked about the fumble, and it was a strange way that thing happened. [Lamar Jackson] did have great ball security; I think he got hit by our offensive lineman as it came out a little bit; it should never hit the ground. And once we discussed that, I think I said, 'Man, what a throw. Holy smokes, what a throw.' That would have been a Top 10-er, I think." (Reporter: "So, if he fires that deep and just says, 'Go' to the receiver, basically, and fires it deep, you're totally comfortable with him taking a shot there?") "Oh, yes, yes. I have said this to Lamar many times: 'Don't every let me coach you out of being a great player.' If we play scared, and he doesn't just trust his great natural instinct and make a throw like that, then what are we doing? It's hard to win if you don't try to win – we try to win."